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Subaru XT Turbo Forester



  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Waxed rims stay clean, and snow/slush doesn't stick. They're easier to keep clean once you've waxed them even once.

    I've had snow/slush throw several wheels off balance in the past, on different cars. Subaru's wheels are all that different from anyone else's.

  • jimeejimee Posts: 9

    This could all be my fault for never having driven a relatively fancy car before, but shimmying has never been a problem for me, and I have driven in wildly varying snow conditions, as I mentioned, for the past 20 years in about 15 different cars throughout upstate NY.

    Regardless of the fact that other cars may behave similarly, that doesn't take away from the unfortunate reality that these types of wheels can have problems in the snow unless they are babied, which wasn't mention in my car manual (nor by my salesman or service dept, which I'm sure has heard this one a number of times before).

    Seems to me that for $30k or so a pop Subaru could at least give a heads up that this is an issue for those of us intending to use the car as advertised. This issue is topping off a poor dealer car delivery experience for me which is too long/tortured to detail in this forum, so I admit that perhaps that is also coloring my reaction to this problem. But it IS a problem.

    Nonetheless, I appreciate everyone's help on this one - I am not sure what I would have done without it!

  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    Seriously, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what could be materially different between a Forester wheel and the wheels on any other car that would cause a Forester wheel to build up appreciably more eccentric weight of snow or ice than any other wheel. Every car I've ever driven in snow would do this to one extent or another. I think the shimmy you experienced due to snow buildup probably had more to do with the specific temperatures and road conditions than to any actual shortcoming in Subaru's design that they would be obligated to point out to buyers. It would be the responsibility of a buyer to establish what actual or alleged design defect it was that caused the problem, and that is not common to other vehicles. I can't think of any.

    Maybe cars sold in snow country should offer Teflon-coated wheels to help shed the buildup?

    I've never waxed a wheel in my life, but there's a first time for everything.
  • leo2633leo2633 Posts: 589
    Hey, Jack, you may be on to something there! I'd take that option if it was offered (as long as it was more durable than my wife's Silverstone cookware).

  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    One more favorable reply, and I'm running out to apply for a patent!
  • lucien2lucien2 Posts: 2,984
    that Subarus rims are manufactured by a company that also makes rims for Honda, Acura, Toyota, and many others. I understand that you personally have never experienced eccentric weight shimmy due to winter weather before, but I sure have. It isn't likely to happen on a car with steel wheels and/or hubcaps since there are no significant nooks for buildup to start. But almost every car with alloy rims I have ever owned has done this. NOT often, I should add, it is not like it happens every snowstorm, but maybe once or twice over the course of the winter. I don't baby my rims like Juice does, but I do wash them thoroughly and I wax them every autumn.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Are you used to bigger vehicles?

    Maybe it's the light wheels, and low unsprung weight in general that Subies have, that makes them a little more sensitive to ice/slush accumulation compared to what you are used to.

    You probably would not feel it with a live axle, for instance, or any non-indy suspension.

    There are spray waxes that are very easy to apply, you could probably just do that after a car wash or even before a snow storm with little effort. Even just hosing the brake dust out should help some.

    Look at modern wheel weights - they are tiny. A snow ball certainly weighs more, it's no wonder it can throw a wheel off balance.

  • Hello all...I've been reading and lurking here for a bit (as well as needling the fellas in the "swanky suv" thread) and the amount of information and good vibes about this vehicle is very impressive. The Big News is that I have clearance from the financial officer (the Mrs.) to proceed with an XT purchase sometime in February. Thats going to be a difficult wait but hopefully I'll make it.

    I currently drive a 2000 Passat 1.8T manual station wagon and the wife drives a 2003 MDX (the family hauler...simply marvelous vehicle). My main reason for looking to purchase at this time is my commute has taken a sharp turn for the worse the past year and stop and go is the name of the although I'm not thrilled about it...I'm looking to move to an automatic. I'm happy to hear that all the auto owners seem to be particularly pleased with this engine/tranny combination.

    I have test driven the auto/PP twice now and been very impressed. This thing just takes off when you hit the gas. The exterior styling is pretty bland but that is actually a plus in my book. The interior fit and finish isn't quite as good as the Passat but it isn't bad and the leather seats were very comfortable. The moonroof almost makes this thing a convertible ;-). The XT seems to be the perfect blend of quality, performance, fun and utility for my needs (kids, dogs, triathlon gear, bikes, sweaty clothes, snowboards, etc.). All wrapped up in a package that says "responsible family man".

    Right now I'm thinking Silver because of the roof rail issue...but we'll see...wife might veto that because the MDX is silver as well. Either way I'm looking forward to being a subie owner in the near future.

  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    Jim- No offense but I think you're blowing this issue out of proportion. In almost four years on this forum, I can only remember one or two other posts on the subject. And once it was explained that the shimmying was caused by ice build-up, the poster was satisfied knowing that no permanent damage was done. Additionally, the conditions when it happens are fairly specific. The roads have to be very slushy but with the ambient air temperature below freezing in order for the slush to both be thrown up and stick to the rims. In other words, if it's melting slush, packed or powdery snow, your wheels will stay clean. Also, as has been pointed out, alloy wheels are more susceptible and the bigger the wheel the greater the likelihood of it happening. Just be glad you don’t have a set of 18” spinners! :-)

    -Frank P.
  • jimeejimee Posts: 9
    Frank P.,

    Point well taken that I am probably blowing this out of proportion a bit.

    The conditions you described are exactly the ones that existed when it happened - problem is, these are fairly common conditions during the winter in parts of the Northeast, especially in February and March as the sun warms. I do realize that this is not causing permanent damage and for that I am thankful. There was some MAJOR wiggling going on, however, at and speeds over 35 mph.

    I'm going with the steel rims from TireRack, will wax them up nice nice before having them mounted with the Hakka Qs, and hopefully that will be the end of that (for this season anyway!) Both sets of wheels will be waxed to the max from now on. Never had alloys before, either, so that might explain why I was so perplexed.

    I just wish I knew before I bought the car that this would be a precondition to a successful winter season with it; I would have asked the dealer to take care of that upon delivery. :) I really think the teflon coating idea is an excellent one.

    Thanks again for all of the focus/help on this issue - I am truly impressed by the amount of information/thought all of you have offered.
  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    The XT seems to be the perfect blend of quality, performance, fun and utility for my needs (kids, dogs, triathlon gear, bikes, sweaty clothes, snowboards, etc.). All wrapped up in a package that says "responsible family man".

    I think you just wrote the neXT commercial! <apologies to Apple>

    Well, maybe except for the sweaty clothes part...
  • Jimee, yes I did purchase a tire and wheel package from tire rack. I never was advised of any problem with the wheels fitting the XT. I told the adviser at tire rack what vehicle it was going on. I got the wheel/Tire package, which included for 16" silver steel wheels, four Graspic DS-1 winter tires, four style 15 wheel covers. The mounting and balance was included in the package price which totalled $484.00 plus shipping.
    Tire rack has a ad in Motor Trend magazine which shows tire packages for available for different makes of vehicles. The Forester had a 15" and a 16" packages listed. Three tires available for the package, Blizzak WS-50,Michelin Arctic Alpin and the Graspics DS-1. I choose the Graspics at $65.00 ea. I have had good luck with this tire on my LL Bean outback, and my A4 Quattro.Hope this helps.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Interestingly, the topic of slush build-up just came up in a WRX topic. One owner said he has build up in the wheel wells and the springs, not the wheels themselves.

    A different person mentioned rally teams spray lithium grease on some parts to keep ice from sticking. Lithium grease is not petroleum-based so it's safe on plastics and rubber.

    Grease up your wheels, though, and they'll go black in no time from brake dust. So I would not suggest that.

  • Juice, what do you think about using silicone spray on the wheels to help in snow build-up. I currently use it on my snow blower to help in keeping the chute clear. Would this cause any problems with wheels?
    Jimee, snow build up on your wheels driving in the tug hill area (snow belt area) will be the least of your problems. I would worry about the snow up to your roof rack more!! I am located South of you in the Ithaca area outside of the snow belt area.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    If it's not "sticky", I'd use it.

    I would not use anything that left a residue and held brake dust and/or any salt or filth close to the wheel finish.

  • leo2633leo2633 Posts: 589
    I was thinking the same thing. I also use silicone in my snowblower chute as well as on my shovels. If I recall correctly, it can also be sprayed onto tires to give them a glossy look.

  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    Three tires available for the package, Blizzak WS-50,Michelin Arctic Alpin and the Graspics DS-1. I choose the Graspics at $65.00 ea.

    I wonder why they didn't also include the Winterforce. It's among the wheel/tire packages available on their website. The tire runs about $51 in our size, and it's available studded.
  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    One owner said he has build up in the wheel wells and the springs, not the wheels themselves.

    In an earlier life, I took my '57 VW Beetle (with sawdust-compound snow tire recaps) though a blizzard (well, by Oregon standards) on a ski trip to Mt. Hood. There I was, minding my own business driving along a long, relatively straight road. Comes a turn, and the front wheels won't steer. Damn near left the road before I finally got stopped at the edge of a steep drop. So much frozen crud had accumulated in the front wheelwells that there was just enough clearance for the tires to spin straight-ahead, but none to turn...

    I'll take unbalancing buildup on my wheels any day!
  • Jack, I took another look at the tire Rack ad in my Motor trend. You are right there is a Winter Force tire for the XT size listed.
  • lfdallfdal Posts: 679
    I used them in the 36 inches of snow we had over the weekend - drove on everything from ice to slush, to hardpack. A lot of the time I was driving in snow up to the door sills. A lot of steep up and down hill driving. No control issues at all.

    For the money I don't think you can beat them.

    Infinitely superior to the OEM Geolanders, IMO.

    I also put a set on my wife's Outback. So far she likes them better than the Potenza's.

    I was looking forward to trying them as they're among the most reasonably priced I could find, purchased at tire rack BTW.

    But, after this storm I consider them well tried out so we can go back to the dry, bare ground now.

  • How easy is it to take the factory roof rack (cross beams) on and off the Forester? How long does it take?

    I already have a hitch bike rack I use for our MDX and I'm debating between getting a roof mounted bike mount for the Forester or getting a tow hitch to accept what I have now. I don't really like roof mounted bike racks due to noise but I was thinking of taking off the cross beams anyways. I could just get a roof bike mount, put it on the cross beams and then just remount the cross beams when I need to carry two bikes (with one bike I can just use the storage area). decision might depend on how involved it is to take on/off the cross beams.

  • ugly1ugly1 Posts: 52
    Less than 10 min. Open the clamp at the end of each rail by loosening the torx screw. Open it enough so you can lift the cross bar straight up and off the top. They don't slide off. Be watchful of the rubber pads, they like to fall out. It was the the second thing I did to mine. The first was to disable the daytime running lights. Next I hope someone finds a way to disable the hill-holder. I've gotten used to it except when it sets itself on the smallest of inclines.
  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    Are yours studded? They're pinned for studs, which is how I plan to buy them.
  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    There are instructions and photographs on another site, but the rules here prohibit posting a link to it.

    The adjustment for the hill holder is found under the windshield washer bottle, which must be removed first. Directly beneath the bottle, there's a cable with an adjustment screw and a locknut. Loosen the lockscrew and turn the adjuster counterclockwise to reduce or eliminate the hill holder's action. Then retighten the locknut and replace the washer bottle.
  • lfdallfdal Posts: 679
    Jack - I got mine without studs. Massachusetts has some funny rules regarding studded tires. Of course MA has lots of funny rules in general....

  • lucien2lucien2 Posts: 2,984
    Back in my naive youth....

    My trusty 4Runner was driving along fine one day, then all the sudden there was this awful shimmy when slowing from 40mph or so. I mean terrible, like the truck was trying to shake itself apart. Well of course I freaked (I was what, 23 at the time?) and pulled over. I crawled all over it, found nothing. I drove it the next day to my mechanic, and every time I went to slow down, the truck would try to shake itself to pieces. I was sure it was some terrible brake problem.

    Back left wheel threw its weights somehow. That's it. End of crisis. Newly balanced wheel, all was well.
  • I had a frustrating experience this weekend. After 2 feet of snow I decided to put snow tires on my 04 XT. I called Tire Rack to place the order. The salesman told me there are no steel wheels for the XT and tried to sell me alloy wheels. I said that there is no difference in the wheels for the entire Forester line. He simply said 'sorry we don't have any wheels for your car'. I hung up. After reading several posts here from others that had a similar experience I decided to try again. I called this morning and said I had a 2004 Forester X. Bingo, no problem. The salesman (not the same one) took my order and it was a much more pleasant experience than I had Saturday. I got the Blizzak WS-50s with 16" steel wheels. I had them on my 98 Forester and they were FANTASTIC. The first time I braked hard on my icy driveway I honestly thought that my ABS had stopped working. It just stopped! I can't wait to put them on my XT. Apparently Tire Rack is out of all wheel covers except style 14. I wanted style 15 but took the 14s. I think they will look better than bare wheels. This is a good example of why this forum is so valuable to XT and Subaru owners in general. Without it I would have believed the salesman that there were no steel wheels for the XT and probably wouldn't have bought snow tires this winter.

    I also experienced wheel shimmy last winter with my 98. Snow had packed on the inside of the wheels. I have experienced this several times on other cars so I had a pretty good idea what the problem was. I will certainly wax both sides of my new wheels before I install them.

    Does anyone use a torque wrench when installing wheels? If so how may lbs/ft do you use?
  • atlgaxtatlgaxt Posts: 501
    Been reading all about snowtires, but they don't make a lot of sense to me as I live in Atlanta. However, I have a place in the north Georgia Mountains (hills to you folks out west), with the hopes of getting up there occasionally when it snows there. Roads around my mountain place are narrow, ashpalt and very steep private roads that are much steeper then what would be allowed on a public road.

    In all this talk of snowtires, I have not seen any mention of chains. My thought is that chains might make more sense for my occasional usage (basically to get on or off my mountain) as compared to spending the money to swap the tires, but this is something I know little about.

    Any thoughts or comments?
  • lfdallfdal Posts: 679
    I think the numbers are 58-72 ft-lbs. I normally set mine to 65 ft-lbs, that way if the torque wrench is a couple of percent off it won't matter.

    Tire rack sells a middling torque wrench for short money. I only ever use the one in this range for my wheels, so high precision would be an overkill.


  • bsvollerbsvoller Posts: 528
    Lugs - I torque mine to 70lbs on my '01. Don't know if the spec changed with the redesign in '03.

    Chains - Really only for the worst of conditions. Max speed is 30 mph, or they'll fail quickly. If they fail, you'll damage stuff unless you notice immediately and stop for a repair. Can tear up your alloys, too.

    Snows - We have Kumho KW-11's on our MPV. This is a compromise tire between the Blizzak's and all-seasons. They wear better and handle better than the Blizzak's in the dry, and outperform all-seasons in the snow. On the other hand, Blizzak's will outperform them in the snow, and all-seasons will wear better and handle better in the dry. Might be a good fit for you. Very affordable ($52 ea. mounted and balanced from TireRack).


This discussion has been closed.